The evolution in the wireless network technology has been exponential in the past couple of decades. The smart phone revolution has completely taken the market by a storm. A cell phone is no more a mere tool to talk or send messages but has turned to efficient, fast and safe mobile computing devise. Fuelled by innovation it has evolved from the first generation of mobile telecommunication technology to the current third generation and the latest fourth generation which is designed primarily for data, has IP-based protocols and is a truly mobile broadband. To understand the generation leaps it is imperative to start from ground zero.
0 G-Zero Generation Technology
These are also referred as pre-cellular systems, since they were the first generation of mobiles radio telephone systems, devised before the prevailing of mobile telephony technology. These were available as a commercial service, with individual telephone numbers. These were made in the shape of a briefcase or were mounted on vehicles The transmitter-receiver was placed in the trunk of the vehicle and attached to the head, which had the dial, display, and handset, placed near the driver seat.
1G-First Generation Technology
Introduced in 1980’s, more popularly known as the cell phones and were used for basic voice service. The radio signals used are analogs, the voice during a call is modulated to a higher frequency, 150 MHz and above, and with the help of a technique called FDMA (Frequency- division Multiple Access, it is transferred between radio towers.
2G-Second Generation Technology
Launched in the 1990’s, the voice in the call was digitally encrypted and then digitally transmitted across the radio towers. Their advantage over the 1G was more efficiency on the spectrum giving improved coverage and capacity. Secondly data services were introduced starting with SMS text messages and moving on to picture messages and MMS (multi media messages). First digital standards (GSM, CDMA), were introduced.
3G-Third Generation Technology
Introduced in 1981/82, 3G has applications such as voice telephony, mobile internet, fixed wireless internet access, video calls and mobile T.V. The 3G service providers are supposed to meet the IMT-2000 standards, an information rate of at least 200 kbit/s (about 0,2 Mbit/s). The later additions also provided higher speeds than the minimum specifications. It was the first mobile broadband.
4G-Fourth Generation Technology
The Mobile WiMAX and LTE( Long Term Evolution) smart phones were available in 2010 and 2011, respectively in the United States, These were the first phones which were able to access the 4G network. These appliances had all the applications of 3G plus:
- Amended mobile web access
- IP(Internet Protocol) telephony
- Multi player gaming services
- High definition mobile TV
- Video Conferencing
- 3D television
- Cloud computing
- Speed- At an average a 4G network is 4 to 5 times faster than a 3G network. It also has superior, uninterrupted connectivity Downloading movies, games and music is much faster and streaming live videos, live TV, and video chatting is seamless.
- Wider Coverage– Coverage of 30 miles and more and complete connectivity at all times.
- Online Security-Guarantees high security. The network prevents hacking and keeps your data private and secure, which is an asset for business purpose.
- Better Signal– More reliable signal, can be assured of connectivity, even on trains.
- Easy Installation– All that is required is a mobile phone which is 4G compatible or a PC card or USB port that can be easily plugged into a laptop.
- Low Cost Introductory Offers- Flexible plans available to suit your needs and usage.
- Business- Increased productivity and efficiency due to large file transfers at high speed, can set up workplace fast, even in transit, rich machine to machine and monitoring applications, videoconferencing, and media collaboration, can have remote access to business applications.
- Connectivity is limited to certain specified regions and carriers.
- Technology is new so initial hurdles, shortfalls and teething problems might be there.
- Switching cost will be there and hardware compatibility will have to be kept in mind.
- Poorer battery life with this network, so larger devices with more battery power will be required, especially when in use for longer duration.
- Health hazard- Stronger radiation and more high power towers can cause health problems at a later stage.
Airtel launched its 4G service in India, in 2012, but at that point of time there were no 4G compatible handsets available. Today there are 13 companies offering 26 handsets. Ever since Airtel slashed its tariffs in September 2014, and brought them down to their 3G tariffs, the demand for 4G compatible handsets has surged and so has the Airtel user base. Market entrant prices are being used and devices are also being offered at affordable prices, starting from Rs 6,700 and above. RIL is launching 4G services through its subsidiary, Jio Infocomm, Aircel too has its 4G presence in four circles .Others like Tikona Digital Networks, are ready but waiting for the market to mature.
It has become a necessity, rather than a luxury to remain connected to the internet constantly and having an efficient net service on one’s mobile can be a boon. The 4G services can help create a digital infrastructure which can stimulate growth, economy, businesses and provide fast, safe and secure internet service. But before switching it is advisable to be sure of your needs, costs and benefits or else the boon can become a bane.